Trip Itinerary JNB/CPT/KNP/VF/CNP :Thoughts please

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Sep 3rd, 2005, 08:27 PM
  #1
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Trip Itinerary JNB/CPT/KNP/VF/CNP :Thoughts please

Firstly thanks to everyone for your comments on this great forum. I have been looking for a couple of weeks now and have found all the info extremely helpful and I must say I'm getting really excited about our trip.... I just hope I haven't left the bookings toooo late!!
We will be arriving in JNB late October and so far have constructed the following itinerary. I would really welcome advice/feedback from those that have been there, done that. . We do not require absolute luxury, for us it is more about the game with maybe a little bit of spoil ourselves here and there. So far this is what we have come up with.
Arrive JNB from Melbourne, Australia.
Overnight JNB
Depart JNB Fly JNB--> Vic Falls/LIV
2 nights (?) Kingdom Hotel
Tour falls, "Flight of Angels", Sunset Cruise, 1/2 day Elephant Back Safari
Transfer to Chobe
2 nights Munchenje Safari Lodge
Game drives, Bush walks, Cruise on the Zambesi
Depart/Fly Vic Falls/LIV --> JNB --> CPT
5 nights CPT - Partner has conference with some prearranged activities (not yet known)
2 nights CPT - Cape/Hermannus/Robbens Is
Depart/Fly CPT --> JBG --> Kruger (Nelspruit)
Pick up car - drive Panorama Route Blyde Canyon etc
2 nights ??? Rissington/Royal Hotel/Lone Creek River Lodge/Chestnut Lodge maybe 1 night ea
2 nights Kruger (Sabi Sands) - Idube Game Lodge
2 nights - Leave free and check out MT Beds for super luxury accomodation in Kruger Depart Kruger Fly - Nelspruit --> JNB
JNB --> Melbourne, Australia

In general -- How does this sound. Any additional suggestions. Things we simply must do. Things we should give a big miss.
Flights -- We will be able to use Frequent Flyer points for most of our flights. We are having trouble with availabilty for the Vic Falls leg. Any suggestions..
Accommodation -- any recommendations for moderately priced accommodation anyone? ANyone been to the hotels/lodges suggested.
MT Beds -- Has anyone any experience in using these guys? Is there likely to be much available in Nov. Is this just plain silly!!!
Local Tour operator v's Australian Travel Agent? I have been working with both Go2Africa and Greenlife(from my enquiry on E-gnu website). I have see very positive comments re Go2Africa on this forum.

I hope I have included all the pertinent info. I look forward to your responses. Many thanks in advance.

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Sep 4th, 2005, 05:32 AM
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We satyed at Munchenje 5 years ago and really enjoyed it.

Not sure how Victoria Falls will be by October due to the lack of rain this year -- someone may know more.

Ths is about all I know of your itinerary.
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Sep 4th, 2005, 02:52 PM
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Hello,

A few comments:

Depending on when your flight arrives, you may be able to avoid overnighting in Joburg. This would give you one more night in Vic Falls/Chobe (I've found that 3 nights per lodge/camp works quite well).

I've been researching the accommodation options in Vic Falls for my own trip, and I wouldn't stay at the Kingdom Hotel. If you want something in a similar location which is much nicer, try Ilala Lodge. The Victoria Falls Hotel also has some specials for 2005.

Chobe can be very crowded at times, with vehicles from the lodges plus those of self-driving tourists. However, you will be in the less crowded western region.

7 nights in Cape Town will give you a good feel for the city. However, Hermanus is a bit far for a day trip from the city -- it's usually part of a Garden Route trip. Is there any particular reason you want to go to Hermanus that makes the trip worth it?

Don't stay one night each in two places in Mpumalanga -- you'll never get a chance to relax because you're always moving on. The towns on the Panorama Route are very close together, so you can pick one and use it as a base. I've stayed at Rissington Inn twice and I would highly recommend it, for great hospitality and wonderful food at a relaxing country inn. 2-3 nights should be enough to see the Panorama Route and visit Pilgrim's Rest.

In the Sabi Sands, 2 nights is really too few -- you'd be better off spending all four nights at one place. It might not be as inexpensive but you'll have a better experience -- as your ranger gets to know you, he or she can start tailoring the game drives to your interests. Assuming you want a moderately priced camp, I'd recommend that you take a look at Notten's Bush Camp -- it's in a great location (neighbouring Londolozi and Mala Mala) and is moderately priced.

You don't really need a tour operator for South Africa -- you can book basically everything yourself, and save yourself quite a bit of money.

For accommodation, if you like smaller places with a lot of character visit www.portfoliocollection.com -- I travelled for a month in SA staying in Portfolio properties and I was never disappointed. There are boutique hotels, country inns, and B&Bs, some of which are very luxurious (and at a fraction of the price of a hotel).

For car hire, compare the majors (Budget, Avis, etc) with SIXT/Tempest in SA, who sometimes have better rates.

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 5th, 2005, 12:42 AM
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Fil
 
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I agree, I wouldn't stay at the Kingdom Hotel. Try Ilala Lodge. The Victoria Falls Hotel also has some specials for 2005. Last January I stayed in Victoria Falls Safari Lodge (5 minutes, driving from town), and I really enjoy. Remember that you will only visit the falls once (or two, if you try also Zambia side, as I did). so, itīs not very important to stay near the falls. Itīs not possible to see the falls from any hotel...
I visited the falls (1h30 walking), I did the boat cruise (relaxing) and the Helicopter. And I loved all. I stayed 2 nights, and I think it was fine.
First day, we arrive and saw the falls (zim side), during the afternoon.
than visit the town (1h) - (very small town). Second day we visit the Zambia side of the falls (cross the bridge walking, and return by taxi). at 3PM, we did "Flight of Angels", and at 5 PM Sunset Cruise.
The second visit of the falls was quicker. We choose to enjoy a drink in Royal Livingston Hotel Bar - beautiful river views.
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Sep 5th, 2005, 01:22 AM
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Just a small point of correction - Hermanus is no more than a 90 minute drive from Cape Town. It is certainly not part of the garden route. You could drive to Hermanus, have lunch and whale watch and return to Cape Town via Franshoek and Stellenbosch in an easy day's outing.
At Victoria Falls you should really consider the A'Zambesi and Elephant Hills hotels.
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Sep 5th, 2005, 01:46 AM
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Quote: Not sure how Victoria Falls will be by October due to the lack of rain this year -- someone may know more.

Has anyone been to Vic Falls this year? Am planning a trip in early Dec but air tickets are pricey and if it is not as impressive as usual then maybe I will skip it. Alternative is to spend the extra time in Cape Town or Garden Route.

Any suggestions?

Thanks
John
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Sep 5th, 2005, 03:49 AM
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the rains should start in November. Therefore a December trip should be fine -- watch the weather reports to see. This year has been very dry -- much less rain than normal during the rainy season last year. But it should have started again by the time you go. That said, you will be there in the rainy season.
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Sep 5th, 2005, 07:18 AM
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Hello,

RE Hermanus -- I suppose it depends on what you think of as far. Personally, I think 3 hours on the road (1.5 there and 1.5 back) is a lot when you are on holiday, unless there is something really special at the end of the drive, or something to make the drive interesting, like the drive to Cape Point (e.g. scenic route, etc).

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 5th, 2005, 01:11 PM
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We visited Vic Falls in November which was at low flow. It was wonderful. At least we got to the Falls and were able to see something. When the Falls are at full flow, while you can hear them a mile away and see and feel the mist everywhere... that's it. You can't really get a feel for them. You certainly can't take photos.

We were at least able to leisurely walk the 1-1/2 miles from the Zim to Zam side, stop at various viewing points, take photos and appreciate the grandeur.

Friends visited during full flow and "all they got was that damn raincoat." which you have to wear. The rainy season in '04 was unusual - everything was wet for a long time. That's not what you get in most years. So I think October will be fine as would November and December, especially if you want to see something.
 
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Sep 5th, 2005, 01:40 PM
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Jasher, sorry but I have to agree fully with 50something about Hermanus; as a matter of fact 50something beat me to it as I was going to correct you too with a response mail to the board.

The drive to Hermanus is virtually a mirror image of the Cape Peninsula drive from Cape Town to Cape Point. The scenery is wonderful to say the very least and there are quite a number of spots to stop along the way to Hermanus such as Rooi Els, Betty's Bay, the Harold Porter botanical gardens and Kleinmond. The 90 minute drive is a very easy drive to do.

Hermanus is a very quaint town and during whale season it is a must do event. If it is not whale season amongst others the walk from the new harbour to Hermanus on the ragged coastline is a must do and very special event. A visit to Kwaaiwater (in Hermanus) is also a fabulous experience as you wont believe how the waves come crashing down in this little bay.

Driving back to Cape Town one can take the route that takes one past the Hemel en Aarde Valley, Botriver, Grabouw, a stop-in at Peregrine farm stall, the fantastic view of False Bay from the top of Sir Lowry's pass and move on to Cape Town. This certainly is no slouch of a 90 minute ride.

Rest assured the ride to and from Hermanus is a very eventful experience and Hermanus on its own is the cherry on the top. All can be done very easily in less than a day and it definitely is worth the day trip. I reckon I must have done this trip close on to 50 times in my life and it still remains as exhilarating as ever on each new occasion.

Btw Hermanus is very far away from the Garden Route and does not even represent the gateway to the region.

TraceyQ with 7 days at your disposal in Cape Town my advice would be that you do not miss out on Hermanus no matter what.

Hope the above helps.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa
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Sep 6th, 2005, 04:57 AM
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Hello,

Sorry about the confusion regarding Hermanus. While those of you who are from SA obviously know the area better than I do, when I was researching my trip to the Cape I often found Hermanus described (at least in the UK and US) as the 'first stop' on a journey along the Garden Route, which is why I tend to think of it as being part of that region rather than part of the Cape Peninsula region.

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 6th, 2005, 10:23 PM
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Hi all,
Thanks very much for all your feedback and clarification. We have decided to make a few changes/inclusions based on the info supplied so thanks I'm sure it will make for an even better holiday.

mpkp - Thanks for the feedback on Muchenje, unfortunately I haven't been able get much other feedback on this lodge so fingers crossed it still as good as when you were there. Have you stayed at any others in the area?
jasher - Where did you stay in Chobe. Any recommendations..

jasher/fil/50something/sandi & Selwyn -Thanks for the advice and clarifications. Unfortunately we don't get into JHB till evening so do have to overnight there. Pain really...
I've taken your advice on the Kingdom and am checking out Ilala and A'zambesi Thanks.
Don't worry guy's we won't miss Hermanus - I'm not really a driving person but I have been told this is just beautiful and I believe the whales will be out so am really looking forward to it. Thanks so much Selwyn for the detailed description of the route - most helpful.

A couple of other things that I still need help with:
1. We have been given a vey good quote by a local operator for the Vic Falls/Chobe leg that we simply can't match ourselves. Has anyone heard of Flame Lily? We found them on the Afrizim website.

2. We have decided on 3 nights in a Lodge in Sabi but I can't decide between which. Idube, Inyati, Nottens and Savanna have been suggested as in our price range. But how to decide??? We're are looking for moderately priced, great game viewing and good atmosphere/company. Not so heavy on the luxury.
3.Anyone, anyone had experience with MT Beds????

Thanks again for all the help.
Hope the world is treating you all well.
Cheers
Tracey

By the way for anyone looking for a hire car - Avis have excellent rates on offer at the moment for those renting in the next few months.
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Sep 7th, 2005, 06:11 AM
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MT Beds.
Owned and operated by an ex game ranger Russell Hine. he wroked for Sabi Sabi.
His business has been around for five or so years. He has good rates, inventory and is reliable. If you can find the lodges you want and book through him, you're in good hands.

All the lodges in the Sabi Sands have GOOD game viewing. They each will tell you that there section is better: Balls, that reserve is awesome, top to bottom. The differentiaition is a result of their ranger selection, maintenance on roads and vehicles. Perhaps the quality of snacks and booze can come into play, but the standards overall are very high.

Have a look at Grootbos, which is just east of Hermanus, could be worth spending a night there, gives you more time to do the shark and whale thing. Also, you could spend a day driving back to Cape Town by passing through the winelands the "back way".
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Sep 7th, 2005, 07:13 AM
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Grootbos is a fabulous place to stay and a nature lovers paradise but be aware that there is a 2 night minimum stayover at this establishment which is rigidly adhered to.

With the above said if you can afford a stay at Grootbos (time and pocket wise) then a two night visit is well worth it as it is a wonderful experience overall.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa

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Sep 8th, 2005, 07:45 PM
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Thanks mkhonzo for your frank remark on the lodges in Sabi Sabi. I'm sure we will be soooo in awe of the whole environment that it will all be ABSOLUTELY fabulous.
We've decided to keep two days up our sleeve for the MT Beds so I hope we get a real bargain!
I have seen some threads on here about guides/rangers so I will read through them again to see if it helps.
Failing that maybe I might just stick a pin in a map of the park whilst blind-folded and pick the lodge thats closest????? I need to make a decision NOW!!!!
Cheers
Tracey
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